Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve and an old Nightgown

I love to sew and over the years have channeled my sewing energies into making clothing from the past. I spend way too much time researching patterns, techniques, and extant garments with the intent to make everything I see. The late 1700s to 1860 appeal to me the most. Unfortunately, those years are pre-sewing machine and all hand-sewing. I haven't done any sewing since last summer when I had an accident that severed my right index finger and left the thumb inflexible. It's been an exercise in patience and practice to re-learn how to do things without my most useful digits, but I'm moving ahead.

I resolved to begin the New Year by getting back into my beloved historical sewing, and a few days ago, I stumbled upon The Dreamstress blog. It's run by Leimomi Oakes from New Zealand, and is chock-full of wonderful stuff that's right up my alley. She hosts a sew-along called The Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge -- a specific challenge to be completed in two weeks. The challenges are very open-ended, so you can easily fit your own personal goals into the theme. I was inspired! Perhaps you may be too, so why not check it out?

The current challenge is "Make Do and Mend". I decided to work on a nightgown I've had stored away for a few years. The Vermont Country Store is a local business that specializes in old-timey products. When they get returns, they just donate them to the thrift shop in my town. I bought a very basic nightgown for $2, because it was so basic. I don't wear nightgowns, but in case I find myself in 1860, I'd be prepared. 

This gown is a simple square-yoked style, with a slight gather under the yoke. The set-in sleeves are gathered at the armscye and at the closed cuffs. The front has a self-faced opening with four buttons to the neck and a stand-up collar.  It is made of unbleached, medium weight muslin. All of this is pretty authentic to a garment worn by a working woman from the 1860s onward. However, the construction is modern: all machine-sewn, with machine overcast raw edges. Four little white plastic buttons fasten the neck opening. I'm going to try and make it a bit more typical of the times.

I think the yoke has possibilities for some simple embellishment. I'm not fond of that collar.

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